The Route 66 Monarch Flyway, which the Illinois Monarch Project debuted on November 18th, 2020, is a 66-mile-wide corridor that stretches from Chicago to St. Louis across the state of Illinois. The project is seeking to bring the unique aspect of Route 66 to Illinois’ efforts to the help the monarch butterfly by planting native wildflowers and restoring habitat projects within the corridor. One of the goals of this effort is to bring together all aspects of life in Illinois, which are represented in the four sectors of the Illinois Monarch Project (IMP) – Urban, Agriculture, Rights-of-Ways and Natural Lands. The IMP collaborates with public and private partners, in addition to individuals across the state, to protect and enhance existing habitat and establish new habitat that supports monarch butterflies and other pollinators.
A dedicated committee with representation from Pheasants Forever, Illinois Farm Bureau, McLean County Soil & Water Conservation District, National Parks Service, Chicago Zoological Society, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Illinois Department of Transportation, and the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway has been working on the Flyway for a few years now.
The Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway recently hired Ms. Casey Wichmann as their Executive Director. She has played an integral role in helping the committee get to the point of a public debut.
“My organization was delighted when the Illinois Monarch Project reached out to us for inclusion in this initiative. Surprisingly enough, the combination of two things as iconic as the Monarch Butterfly and Route 66 seamlessly meshed to create this unique opportunity. Route 66 is the most famous road in America and generations of travelers have romanticized this highway as a symbol of unlimited mobility and freedom. Now, with the launch of the Route 66 Monarch Flyway, we can continue to promote the history and nostalgia of the road while working to save the monarchs. The Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway is honored to be included in this initiative and hopes to see the fruits of our labor through increased tourism in our over 90 Route 66 communities in Illinois and the explosion of monarch habitats along our shining ribbon of blacktop, that we call The Mother Road,” said Wichmann.
Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway Executive Director
Illinois Department of Transportation Roadside Management Resource Specialist
ILLINOIS MONARCH PROJECT VIRTUAL SUMMITS
Route 66 Monarch Flyway Virtual Summit - November 18, 2020 Wrap-Up:
- Project Overview & Highlights - Introduction of the vision of the corridor
- Introduce & explain the Route 66 Monarch Flyway - Understand the potential
- Prepare for the public launch of the project
- Projects in the Works
- Identify interests, potential resources and connections
- Connect leaders and those who want to engage more
- Think About What is Possible
- What might be possible in our region?
- Where are existing or potential projects?
- Potential Corporate Sponsors
Upcoming Illinois Monarch Project Virtual Summits:
Spring into Action on the Ground - May 4, 2021 @ 1-3pm
- Focused on kicking off the on-the-ground work for 2021.
- Your $10 registration fee will help offset our event hosting expenses and support dedicated monarch habitat projects on the ground.
- Registration will open towards the end of April.
PLEDGE & VOLUNTEER
Be a Part of the Monarch Super Generation!
Whether you are an individual or an organization, make your actions count by adding your pledge here. Pledges will help us estimate our progress toward the goals set forth in the Illinois Monarch Action Plan. The responses you provide here will be used to inform monarch butterfly conservation priorities and practices in Illinois. Your contact information will not be used for purposes other than this pledge, unless otherwise indicated.
Visit the Illinois Monarch Project website and read the Monarch Action Plan (The Route 66 initiative can be found on pages 40 & 41). If you have questions or comments about the pledge, please contact our team at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
CURRENT & UPCOMING PROJECTS
There are several ongoing projects along the route including one at the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie near Wilmington. This is the northern anchor point of the corridor.
The Illinois Department of Transportation has been working to remove invasive species, such as common teasel and phragmites, along US Route 53 both north and south of the Tallgrass Prairie. IDOT is working to clear the road right-of-way of these invasive species to help prevent them from spreading into the prairie.
The Litchfield Route 66 Prairie is another project underway, located south of Springfield. This is the southern anchor point of the corridor. This project is a maintained prairie remnant that includes a section of the original Route 66 roadbed.
A volunteer group called the Natural Area Guardians has been managing the site and has recently worked with IDOT to install an ADA accessible path and parking lot. They will be working with other partners including the Litchfield Museum and Route 66 Welcome Center to continue to make Litchfield a destination for Route 66 tourists as well as prairie enthusiasts.
Several projects are in various stages of planning and implementation, and, as long as they benefit the monarch, they are a welcome part of the effort. We kept the definition broad in scope to allow room for creativity of events and on-the-ground efforts. All plantings or restorations are required to use native plants suitable for the site and include milkweed. In several locations, there are discussions about the installation of trails along the historic route, community events that could be focused on the monarch, restoration of public areas and unique collaborations. We are always looking for new ideas and new people to get involved as we build a network along Route 66!